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How Wild Will the Box Office Be?

October 15th, 2009

There are a trio of three wide releases this week, including one opening in close to 4,000 theaters. This time last year there were four wide releases, but none were sizable hits, which gives 2009 a great chance for expanding its lead over 2008 at the box office race.

Where the Wild Things Are is not only the widest release of the week, it is also the best-reviewed wide release of the week. Spike Jonze's adaptation of the classic kids book is being called a heartfelt adaptation, but the since the book is only 10 sentences long, the story feels stretched a little thin over 90 minutes length. Expectations for the film at the box office range from $30 million to $40 million with the higher end being ever so slightly more likely than the lower end. I think it will fail to reach $10,000 on the per theater average, but it could come very, very close with $37 million.

After seeing stunning growth over the past few weeks, Paranormal Activity should climb higher on the box office chart and could hit second place this weekend when it expands further. Strangely, it is still not expanding wide and is only playing in 760 theaters. Its per theater average will of course drop from last weekend, but it should remain incredibly strong at over $20,000 giving the film a weekend haul of more than $15 million. In fact, there are some who think it could reach $20 million, or more. I don't think it will earn that much, but it could be close with just over $19 million over the weekend for a total of $32 million. All of this earned on a budget of just $15,000, which would make it the third most profitable movie of all time. If it can get to $60 million domestically and $110 million worldwide, it will be the most profitable movie of all time, topping The Blair Witch Project.

Couples Retreat should be right behind with $18 million over the weekend to give the film a total of $63 million after two. This puts it right on pace to reach $100 million, but its margin of error is nearly non-existent.

The next wide release of the week is Law Abiding Citizen, which is opening in just under 2,900 theaters. It is also opening with reviews that for a while looked like they would end up under 10% positive. Most critics are calling the movie absurd and full of logical flaws and bad acting. Some are calling it a combination of Saw and Death Wish. Here's the problem. If you really like Saw, the real thing's latest installment is coming out next week. And if you are a fan of Death Wish, you are a likely a time traveler who just arrived from the 1980s. On a serious note, these films were hugely popular during the 1980s, but recent examples like The Brave One and Death Sentence have bombed. Law Abiding Citizen could earn $15 million over the weekend, or it could open with less than $10 million. Split the difference and you get fourth place and $12.5 million during its opening weekend.

The Stepfather is the last wide release of the week. The remake of the 1980s horror film is opening in 2,734 theaters, but with no reviews. This suggests the studio does not have much faith in the film's quality, but hopes it will be a better performer with crowds. It is opening just a couple of weeks before Halloween, which should help, but Paranormal Activity is going to soak up a lot of its target audience. On the high end it could score as much as $15 to $20 million, which could be enough to earn second place, but that seems unlikely. In fact, it is more likely that it will miss the top five with $5 million or so. I'm predicting fifth place with $9 million, but Zombieland should be right behind with just over $8 million over the weekend for a total of over $60 million after three, which means it could grab fifth place if The Stepfather stumbles at all.


Filed under: Zombieland, Where the Wild Things Are, The Stepfather, Couples Retreat, Paranormal Activity, Law Abiding Citizen